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'Love, Talk, Read' and Improve Your Child's Speech and Language

Sep 21, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Thomas J. Sullivan

Dr. Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, book author. Courtesy photo

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - When should your child say his first word? What sounds should your young child be saying, and at what age? If you are worried that your child might have a speech and/or language delay, where do you turn?

Dr. Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, a public school speech-language pathologist in the San Juan Unified School District (SJUSD), examines these important concerns in her new book, “Love, Talk, Read to Improve Your Child’s Speech and Language: Quick Tips for Busy Caregivers”, now available on Amazon in ebook, and in print edition.

McKibbin, an Orangevale resident, is a professor of communication sciences and disorders at Cal State, Sacramento. She provides direct services to students from ages 3-18 in the San Juan Unified School District in Carmichael. Her husband, Dr. Mike McKibbin, is a SJUSD board member.

She’s concerned about how children’s speech and language have been impacted by the pandemic.

“I know that this is a global phenomenon. As both a mother and practicing speech-language pathologist (SLP), I am deeply concerned that we might have a ‘lost generation’ of children whose speech and language delays may negatively impact their whole life trajectories,” she said.

Her new book for parents and other caregivers of 0–5-year-old children recognizes developmental milestones of speech and language, what to expect, and when she feels parents or guardians should be concerned.

“I felt inspired to write this book, because in my whole career, I have never seen the kinds of speech and language delays in children that I’m now seeing post-pandemic,” McKibbin said.

McKibbin shared her own journey with her son Mark who had special needs as he was growing up. Dyslexia, ADHD, and neurological problems were not what was expected from the child of two parents with doctorate degrees.

“The purpose of the book is to provide scientifically based, proven, techniques which caregivers can incorporate into their daily routines with their children,” she said. “If children are delayed, their caregivers can begin the process of obtaining early intervention services,” she said.

McKibbin offers practical advice to creating conversations with simple research-based techniques to expand a young child’s early spoken sentences with tips to build their vocabulary in daily routines.

She provides a list of a child’s first 100 words, describes strategies for preparing for kindergarten by encouraging basic reading, writing and social skills and offers easy, fun activities designed to further childhood speech and language development. She also includes a link to her YouTube channel offering “how-to” examples.

“By one year of age babies should be pointing regularly and saying several words. By two years old, children should be saying 200-300 words and speaking in sentences of up to 3-4 words in length,” she said.

“It’s never too early to start reading. Children need to see adults around them reading. Children do what their role models do,” she said. “Be a role model by reading yourself,” McKibbin said.

She also explains the benefits of a child speaking and reading in more than one language.

“Children from multilingual homes are more cognitively flexible and have better vocabularies, phonological awareness, memory, creativity, mental flexibility, and problem-solving skills than children from mono-lingual homes,” she writes.

Recent research about the use of electronic books reveals that young children show better focus and comprehension when parents use print books, and not ebooks.

“It takes great discipline, time, and yes, sacrifice to interact with our children rather than let technology babysit them,” she writes.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less screen time the better, especially before the age of five,” she said. “If parents choose to do so, they need to place consistent limits on the time spent and develop a family use plan.”

“Screen time with small children should be very limited; and when it is allowed there needs to be joint media engagement where a caregiver watches with children and discusses what they have seen,” she said.

She offers some closing advice to young parents. “Be both consistent and persistent and your efforts will pay off.”

Visit for more information, or to order McKibbin’s new book. Her “Love, Talk, Read” book drive which collects and donates books to at-risk children experiencing poverty has donated over 350,000 books in the U.S. and over 50 countries around the world.